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F L I E S
by
Jagannathan Sampath
Copyright (c) 1999
Jagannathan Sampath
All Rights Reserved
Last Changed : March 18, 1999

F L I E S is a tool for animating flying insects in Maya. The workflow is very simple: You select a Fly object and the Box object inside which your flies will fly. F L I E S then generates unique random flight paths and assigns them to each fly. You then playback the animation and tweak the flight parameters until you are satisfied.

DOWNLOAD:

The most recent version of F L I E S is at:

http://members.tripod.com/sjagannathan/flies/flies.zip

I intend requesting Lumis and other Maya related sites to make it available on their sites too. If you wish to redistribute F L I E S, please do so only in the form (as flies.zip or other archival format) I am providing at the above location. Please do not redistribute the MEL script alone, the target user looses the documentation and a chance to employ me ;-)

SETUP:

  • Extract flies.zip in a directory like $home/flies/
  • Put the MEL script flies.mel in $home/maya/scripts
  • Type flies on the command line
  • Refer this user guide ($home/flies/index.htm)

QUICK START:

This section is designed to help you start using F L I E S as soon as possible. Here we go:

  • Create a Cone -- I assume its named nurbsCone1
  • Scale nurbsCone1 uniformly in XYZ by 0.5
  • Create another Cone -- I assume its named nurbsCone2
  • Scale nurbsCone2 uniformly in XYZ by 5.0
  • Launch F L I E S (type flies on the command line)
  • Select nurbsCone1
  • Click on Get Fly
  • Select nurbsCone2
  • Click on Get Box
  • From the Perspective View, choose Show -> Curves to turn curves off
  • Hit the Play button on the Time Slider
  • flies (nurbsCone1 instances) must be flying within the box (nurbsCone2)

CONTROLS:

The following are the various controls in F L I E S:

Get Fly:

The Fly object is your fly. F L I E S will instance this object to generate the required number of flies. To input the Fly object, select an object and click this button.

You can change your Fly object anytime. This is particularly helpful if your Fly model is heavy. I normally use a Cone or a Locator for the Fly and when I like the animation, I replace it with the real Fly model.

Get Box:

The flies fly inside a Box object. To input the Box, select an object and click this button.

Like the Fly, you can change the Box anytime and still have your flies flying inside the new box.

Get Both:

For convenience sake. Select the Fly and the Box objects in order and hit this button to bring them into F L I E S

GLOBAL PARAMETERS:

The following parameters affect all flies in all layers:

Start Frame:

Starting frame of the animation

Total Frames:

Total frames in the animation

Head Tail Axis:

The axis along which the head and the tail of the fly lies. Since F L I E S does path animation, this axis becomes the follow axis.

Up Axis

The axis that ensures the fly flies the right side up. Experiment to find which one works for your flies!

LOCAL PARAMETERS:

Layer:

There are five layers and you can launch a maximum of ten flies per layer. The flies in a particular layer all share a set of flight parameters (discussed below). Layering flies is very useful for bringing character into the animation -- some fly fast, some fly slow, some jitter a lot while some glide smoothly.

Drag the slider or enter the layer number to change the layer. The flies in the current layer are hilited. This helps you quickly focus on the flies that will be affected when you change the flight parameters.

Number Of Flies:

Number of flies launched in this layer.

FLIGHT PARAMETERS [LOCAL]:

Flight Number:

The flight number is responsible for the flight routes of your flies. Change the flight number and you change their routes. Also, the flight number is your ticket to fly them again through a previous route.

Round Trips:

A fly flies between randomly generated Start and End points inside the box. A round trip is the journey : Start -> End -> Start.

More round trips means the flies have to fly faster to cover the extra distance in the same time.

Turbulence:

How turbulent the flight is? 0.0 is least turbulent. 1.0 is most. The default turbulence of 0.5 works well for houseflies while a turbulence of 0.75 seems suitable for those buzzing around street lights.

Detail:

Level of twists and turns in the flight.

OTHER PARAMETERS:

Okay:

Click this button to quit F L I E S leaving all the generated flies intact.

Cancel:

Click this button to abandon F L I E S killing all the generated flies.

QUIRKS:

This is my first MEL program. Therefore, you can fool it in a thousand different ways! The following are the things to avoid when F L I E S is running:

  • Dont delete the Fly or the Box once they have been input into F L I E S
  • Dont delete any of the generated flies
  • Dont select a generated fly as your Fly object
  • Dont hide the Fly or the Box
  • When you hit Get Both, make sure you have at least two objects in the selection list
  • If you find more, dont do them and contact me ASAP!

If you do any of the above, error messages swarm at you. The program wont crash though. Follow the rules and your flies will be flying again. Its best anyway to restart the program.

ABOUT ME:

I am a freelance CG Software Developer based in Madras, India. I am committed to developing software that helps artists/animators create CGI for movies or television. I am always on the look out for a fulltime programming position and thus would love to be a fulltime CG Software Developer at your studio. If you like the idea, here is my contact information:

Jagannathan Sampath
F14, HIG Flats,
Anna Main Road,
KK Nagar,
Chennai - 600 078
Tamil Nadu
INDIA
Phone : +91-44-4890321
e-mail :
sjagan@hotmail.com

I worked fulltime as a Production Software Engineer at EFX from August 1997 to September 1998. To check out my current and past projects, please visit my web site:

http://members.tripod.com/sjagannathan/

You can find my online resume at:

http://members.tripod.com/sjagannathan/resume/